It’s about seeking solutions

It is often said that the most innovative and creative solutions to problems are found during tough times. And in many cases, new solutions change the way we live or do business.

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Think, for example, of the 2011 avian influenza outbreak. It resulted in a ban on raw ostrich meat exports and brought the industry to its knees. In response, Klein Karoo International developed preheated meals. While the company was still banned from exporting raw meat, there was nothing to stop it exporting this new product and rebuilding its international market. Now, because preheated meals provide a buffer against similar export bans in the future, preheated meals will most likely remain part of the company’s offering.

Not only was a disaster averted; the solution will probably contribute to the long-term sustainability of the ostrich industry.
Speaking at the recent Agri Limpopo congress, the association’s CEO, Willem van Jaarsveld, said that farmers’ associations should sharpen their knowledge so that they “can ask effective questions”.

Informed insights would give farmers “new solutions to problems”, he said.

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While it is true that Van Jaarsveld was speaking about land reform (and AgriSA has already set an example by proposing a model that seems to have paved the way for fruitful discussions between government and agriculture), his words are applicable to many other situations that might initially seem daunting. In a country where power outages are increasingly crippling the economy, where crime has become a personal reality for many, and senior politicians sometimes act in dubious ways, it’s no great effort to fall into a state of negativity.

In fact, it is all too easy to stand around the braai at the weekend and complain at length. But we will get nowhere if we continue to be a country of complainers. We need innovative minds that are willing to ask the right questions which, in turn, will lead to informed and workable solutions.

As we send this week’s issue of Farmer’s Weekly to the printers, there is one good reason to put negativity aside: it has started raining over large parts of the country’s interior. This will obviously be a profound blessing for many of our readers, particularly those in the Free State and North West, who were deeply concerned that soil moisture content would be too low for planting to commence, following drought conditions over the previous season.

While some farmers have experienced flash floods, with livestock deaths and damages to infrastructure, I am reminded of my father’s words a few years ago, following flood conditions in the Overberg where he farms: “The benefit of rain always outlasts the damage.”

This week’s editorial letter was written by the
Farmer’s Weekly deputy editor, Anneli Groenewald.